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Baba and Amir are Pashtuns, the majority ethnic group in Afghanistan; Ali and Hassan are Hazaras, a minority group and the most persecuted ethnic people of Afghanistan. Although Baba has grown up with Ali and does not feel a hatred for the Hazaras, other Pashtuns in the novel--particularly Assef and his Taliban kindred--believe that the Hazaras are only fit for extermination. When the Russians invade Afghanistan, wealthy Pashtuns like Baba decide to leave, since the Russians attempted to weed out the ruling class. Baba's wealth and high social standing in Kabul were lost when he moved to America, where he settled into a lower middle-class status while working in a convenience store. He and Amir built a new life, safe from persecution by the Russians, but Baba was never to enjoy the status in California that he had earned in Kabul. Amir is able to better adjust to his new country, and he is happy in California, where he completes college, becomes a writer, and marries the girl of his dreams. Ali and Hassan actually had a better life during the Russian occupation, but when the Taliban took over, they immediately began a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Hazaras. Ali eventually died when he stepped on a roadside bomb, and Hassan and his wife were executed by the Taliban. When Amir returns to Afghanistan to search for his nephew, Sohrab, he is forced to wear a fake beard and native clothes in order to avoid detection by the Taliban, who hate Afghans with Western affiliations. Only after the Taliban are driven out of most of Afghanistan are all of the ethnic groups able to again live in relative peace.
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